Fuxian Lake stretches out through Chengjiang, Jiangchuan and Huaning Counties in the Yunnan Province, spanning an area of 131 square miles. The lake is the 2nd deepest (158m) freshwater lake in China.
The Chinese Athletic Association (CAA) and the International Association of Ultramarathon (IAU) are hosting the event which included both a 50km and a 100km. They were using it as a trial with a view to it being the 50km World Championships in 2018. The race was one of invite and I jumped at the chance to visit China. Athletes from over 20 countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, USA, Argentina and several European countries, were invited to take part, alongside runners in the open race. Athletes from over 20 countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, USA, Argentina and several European countries, were invited to take part, alongside runners in the
I arrived with a few other British athletes 3 days before and got to meet new friends and was reunited with old ones from the UK and abroad. The journey was a long one as I fly from Heathrow to Guangzhou which took 12hours and then caught a connecting flight to Kunming taking another 2hrs. I arrived at the hotel over 24hrs after leaving the UK but enjoyed some good films!
The area in China is 7hrs in front but luckily I have no trouble sleeping the first night. The next day what I do struggle with is the fact we are at 1757m above sea level and I live at sea level! My breathing whilst trying to run was certainly laboured. I had that and the glorious sunshine to adjust to where the midday sun was peaking to about 30degrees.
The hotel was lovely. There was an amazing pool which looked out over the lake. I tried one length of bilateral front crawl breathing and sounded like a whale blowing out of his blow-hole as I fought for more oxygen.
I tried to be as adventurous as I could with the food but the chickens claws and gizzard (digestive tract) I could not do!
I spent time with the other runners relaxing, eating and getting nervous! Perhaps because I was in the company of the other runners all the time I felt a brewing of butterflies as they discussed pace and previous performances. It took a lot to just remind myself to run my own race. We hired a taxi and drove the course which proved to be hillier than anticipated as we all thought running around a lake would mean flat. I wanted to start at a conservative pace but I had never run a 50km road race before and wasn’t sure how much time to factor in for altitude so it was going to be a best estimate. Eventually it was race day!
I was so pleased when the gun went off. 8.30 and we were starting.
We ran from Moon Bay Park and finished in Hujiwan accumulating 510m. I started conservatively and it took ages to get into my stride. I fuelled every 10-15km using 32Gi gels and a drink of Tailwind as I wanted to try it out. There was water every 5km which was always welcome as it was so humid. I ran the whole distance alone but slowly caught others and finally with 10km to go was in 3rd. The last 6km were a struggle. I just felt sick and my body didn’t really respond to me wanting to push on. You think with only 3 miles to go there is always the ability to squeeze out that final bit more but I tried and failed.
You think you’re tired but that soon fades when you spend time watching the 100km runners finish. They looked exhausted. It was a privilege to cheer such performances in when a third of the field failed to finish! Well done to all the British runners who all finished. In the men’s 50km Paul Martelletti finished 3rd (3:19:01) and Paul Fernandez 8th (3:48:54). In the women’s 50km Sue Harrison was 4th (3:53:38) and Hannah Oldroyd was 12th (4:20:21). In the 100km Jo Zakrzewski (8:50:30) took the silver medal behind Valeria Sesto of Argentina and Melissa Venables finished 8th (10:28:51).
The journey home was full of delays and lost luggage but the memories all travelled home in one piece and they are certainly all good.
Thank you to everyone in the team who made it such a great trip and to all my sponsors for making the race a success.